The 7 Best Sustainable Footwear Brands of 2022
Sustainability is a hot topic for many brands right now, and for good reason. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet, and we exacerbate the problem when we think of our clothes and shoes as disposable, Kristy Drutman, host and founder of Green brunette girl said.
Think about it: how many shoes do you own and how many do you wear regularly? And once your heels are broken or your soles torn, do you go to a cobbler to have your shoes repaired or do you throw them away? “Anything you can do to keep clothes out of a landfill is a win,” says Drutman.
While some shoe companies do their part, others just put the word “sustainable” on their products without any backing, making it hard to know who to support. “They know sustainability is sexy and marketable,” says Drutman. “If there are no hard reports or information to back up their claims, it’s safe to say it’s just a marketing gimmick.”
For this list, we looked for brands that commit to sustainable goals, treat their employees fairly, and prioritize recycling and upcycling because sustainability goes way beyond marketing.
Shop with the planet in mind with the sustainable shoe brands below.
all the birds
All Birds have made a name for themselves since their launch in 2016. A celebrity favourite, the incredibly comfortable shoes look like a cloud. Whether you’re grabbing a coffee or going out for a run, they’re perfect for just about anything. But other than that, we put them on this list because of their sustainability practices. The brand is carbon neutral with a fairly transparent supply chain, but they don’t stop there. Not only do they plan to halve their footprint by 2025, but they also plan to reduce it to near zero. by 2030.
They put workers first and have third-party companies assess their factories to make sure they treat and pay everyone fairly. If you’re looking for a sale, AllBirds also sells imperfect or lightly used shoes for a pretty big discount in their ReRun Market.
Buy now: allbirds.com
Founded in 1925, Pedro Garcia — a family brand now owned by its third generation, brother and sister Mila and Pedro García — is known for its buttery leather sandals with a premium edge, like bronze studs or woven heels. The brand designs and manufactures its shoes in Elda, a town in the Spanish region of Alicante, which it takes very seriously: “Made in Spain” is an integral part of the brand’s identity. It’s one of Drutman’s favorite shoe brands because it ensures that its business supports Alicante’s economy, from responsibly sourcing local materials for its sandals to employing local artisans.
Buy now: pedrogarcia.com
We’ll say it: because many sustainable brands prioritize basics over trends to support capsule wardrobes that never go out of style, they can sometimes be a bit boring. But I say you don’t have to sacrifice style for durability. Of Western sweaters at two-tone slidesstrappy, vegan colorful sandalsand sculptural Leather bootsAlohas designs are so fun, you’ll want to wear them season after season.
The brand uses non-harmful dyes and Leather Working Group certified leather, but they stand out from the other brands on this list thanks to their stance on production. They make their shoes on demand, which means they wait for orders to come in before starting production. They even offer 30% off pre-sale styles, which saves excess energy and materials and saves you money.
Buy now: alohas.io
Thousand Fell calls itself the “world’s first recyclable sneaker”. Although we cannot prove it, we box say that these practices white sneakers going beyond durability – which is why Drutman says it’s a must buy. The brand uses corn, coconut husks, sugar cane, and recycled bottles for its vegan sneakers, but you’ll find it hard to believe they aren’t made from real leather. They even take it a step further and pay you $20 to recycle your sneakers through their SuperCircle initiativewhich saves their shoes from ending up in landfills and saves them the cost of producing new materials.
Buy now: millefell.com
You’ve seen Vejas around: they sell great everyday knits and canvas. sneakers and hiking boots stamped with their signature “V” that can be dressed up or down to match whatever’s in your wardrobe.
Veja believes in supporting his homeland. Instead of outsourcing its production to countries where workers may be underpaid and treated unfairly, Veja designs and manufactures its shoes in Brazil and Peru, where the brand is based. There, the brand makes its sneakers with eco-friendly materials like rice waste, recycled rubber, and recycled plastic bottles. They also partner with farmer associations in Brazil and Peru to source materials and even go so far as to pay four times the market price for their Fair for Life-certified Amazonian rubber, which helps support projects social and to protect the tropical forest.
Buy now: veja-store.com
Of Birkenstock-style sandals with heeled western-inspired buckles Leather boots you will live all fall, the French brand Sézane has it all. The B Corp The brand creates its shoes in Italian, Portuguese and Spanish workshops from at least 75% sustainable materials and colors the fabrics using natural vegetable dyes. When it comes to shipping, the brand takes sustainability one step further by sending your shoes in recycled packaging.
But we love that investing in a Sézane shoe doesn’t just mean you’re doing good for the environment: you’re doing people good too. The brand has launched its own charity, Demain, and donates 10% of its sales to programs that fund children’s education.
Buy now: sezane.com
The ultra-comfortable slip-on sneakers from Avre (we love their cream and off-white color neutral) are like slippers in disguise. To make sure they’re as durable as possible, the brand leverages technology like a 3D “shape-knit” cutter that cuts fabric with precision to reduce scrap and waste.
The brand has also invented a new “Bloom” foam insole made from harmful algae: ridding the ocean of it can actually help reduce water pollution and restore healthy ecosystems. The brand claims that with a Bloom insole, 45 liters of water and 28 cubic meters of air are cleaned.
Avre has also taken steps to extend the life of its sneakers. They’re designed to be machine washable, so once they start to look scuffed and worn, you can throw them in the washer, no scrubbing.
buy now: avrelife.com
Why Trust InStyle
Lee Musho is an accomplished writer who works in New York magazine, The cup, Thrillist, Eater, and much more. She specializes in digital media, e-commerce, branded content, social media and photography. She also has a deep interest in sustainability as it relates to fashion. For this story, she tirelessly researched the best shoe brands that can truly be called sustainable, and she consulted with sustainability expert Kristy Drutman, host and founder of Green brunette girl.